More specs of the Acer CloudMobile revealed, we take a second look (video)

Brad Molen
B. Molen|03.01.12

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More specs of the Acer CloudMobile revealed, we take a second look (video)
We can't say it was necessarily love at first sight, but a second passover certainly helped our heart grow fonder. In our first hands-on of the Acer CloudMobile, a phone with a product design award under its belt, we weren't completely convinced that it was worthy of such a prize. However, we were given the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with the device and previously unknown specs to go along with it. Here's what we discovered during our reacquaintance.
First, the CloudMobile brings with it a 4.3-inch 1,280 x 720 HD display, which translates into 342ppi of non-PenTile wonderment. And it's exactly the way you'd expect it to be: simply gorgeous. We were allowed to play an HD video to get a true sense of its visual capacity, and there's no doubt that this display is among the best that we've seen on a smartphone so far. Acer tells us that a huge reason for this -- in addition to the resolution, of course -- is because the company uses a single glass on its display with a zero air gap between it and the digitizer, which helps reduce reflection on the screen. Oh, and don't let us forget about the 178-degree viewing angle; in our time with the phone we could easily validate the accuracy of Acer's claims, since we looked at it almost edge-on and were still able to clearly read text with no issue.

If Acer's attempting to champion the high end of the market, the CloudMobile's greatest obstacle in reaching that goal is its 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, which as of this week is no longer the top-notch spec in the smartphone industry, thanks to the introduction of quad-core handsets. It will still be an impressive performer, it seems, but the device will be launching in Q3, which in this dynamic industry is just enough time for more powerful devices to hit the shelves. We can't really give negative points to Acer for this just yet -- power users will still likely enjoy dual-core processors and we'll let the benchmarks and performance reviews give it a thumbs-up or down when the time comes. But if the firm is hoping to jump to the top of the spec sheet, this will prevent it from getting completely there. Fortunately, however, the 1GB of included RAM is right on par.

In our original hands-on, our impressions of the CloudMobile's design were hit and miss. We could tell it's of average thickness (9.9mm) and is lightweight (125g, or 4.4oz), and were concerned by its build quality. As it turns out, however, the phone's materials are better than the typical cheap plastic, being constructed with an aluminum chassis and a metal band around the tops and edges. The battery cover itself is actually made of plastic, but its soft-grip "3D Micro Perforation texture" -- the technical term for its grippy surface -- aids in preventing the phone from slipping. And after using it for a few minutes, we felt at ease with the device and believe it will be able to hold its own. It's still not the best around (especially with the HTC One S's ceramic build), but we are no longer worried about it becoming the phone's weak point. The sleek curves are quite elegant and help make this a more attractive handset.

We haven't had the opportunity to test out its audio performance, but we're told it sports Dolby Mobile 3 with HDMI output and will offer HD voice complete with enhanced noise suppression during calls. This is nothing new, but it also uses a tech called VRHP which equalizes the volume level of your mic, making your voice sound the same no matter how you hold the phone. If this exists in other handsets, we rarely are told about the awesome feature. It sure walks the walk, and we hope it's going to talk the talk.

Next up is the 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, which Acer says will offer continuous shot-to-shot capabilities and zero shutter lag. It's supposed to perform well in low light situations, and takes advantage of HDR, live zoom, continuous focus and Panorama HD. Since we could only view a very small number of features, we weren't able to test it out on this go-around.

We also got a peek at the lock screen, which offers the four quick shortcuts that are now standard with Ice Cream Sandwich. Swiping to the side triggers a window blind animation to get into the home panel. Acer will have its own lightweight custom UI on top, and we've been told that its skin is focused on improving (read: tweaking) the status bar, phone dialer features, messenger (and its integration with contacts) and adding widgets with more social networking. It will also offer Android Beam and other NFC features, as well as free access to Acer Cloud, a cloud server that serves as a cache index which stores all of your phone's pictures and documents directly on your computer. This means that the only space limitation is the amount of storage you have on your laptop or desktop.

The opportunity to spend more time with the CloudMobile -- not to mention getting the full inside scoop on its features and spec list -- was quite beneficial. We came away more impressed than we were on our first run-through, and we're hoping that it'll keep getting nicer each time we see it. The HD display was by far one of the best we've ever seen on a smartphone to date. The only item on the list we'd prefer to see improvements on is the dual-core CPU, especially given the fact that by the time it launches in Q3 it won't be close enough to the top of the line. Acer's new flagship is just another indication that several smaller mobile companies -- Huawei, ASUS and ZTE included -- are coming out of the woodwork in 2012 to show they can play the same game the big boys can. Excited? So are we.

Update: Even though Acer wouldn't give us specifics on the chipset in person, the spec sheet in its booth lists it as the Qualcomm 8260A, which is a Snapdragon S4 -- in other words, it's a dual-core chip that certainly is no slouch when compared to Tegra 3 quad-core. Still, we won't judge until we get our hands on an actual final-production review unit.

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